Who doesn’t own a hairbrush? Where would we be without the iron and the ironing board? Traffic would be a greater mess if it was not for the traffic light, and we would not feel secure at night if it weren’t for a home alarm system. These items and more have been created by Black men and women. As we honor the Black women and men who have paved the way for the next generation, let’s take a look at the great inventions by Black moms for all moms.
Ladies, let’s face it: Where would we be without our hairbrush? I have several hairbrushes at home, but I have two go-tos in my bathroom drawer. I even have a special brush for my daughter, Tennell. We can thank Lynda D. Newman for her new-and-improved hairbrush in 1898. The bristles allowed for easy brushing and detangling. The spaces between bristles provided a way for dirt and loose hair to be contained. I am grateful for her creative mind.
I am not the one who irons in our family. My husband, Troy, has great talent for the perfect crease in our pants. He knows how to pop a collar on a shirt. When I hear the sound of the ironing board being set up, I know he is at work on his masterpiece. He takes his time and he takes pride in his work. What would life be like without the ironing board? In 1892, Sarah Boone patented the improved version of the ironing board. Ms. Boone focused on women’s clothing and the way they were presented. Ms. Boone was one of the first Black women to receive a patent in the United States.
During this uncertain time in society, while we are spending more time at home, we feel safe with a home security system. It provides a form of peace that allows us to sleep more secure at night at home with our families. I am thankful for the brilliant mind of Mary Van Brittan Brown. She and her husband noticed the lack of police presence in their neighborhood in New York. In 1966, Mrs. Brown created a security system that used a camera on the outside that broadcasted the images on the television. In 1969, the Browns were awarded the patent for the home security system. The modern-day security systems are patterned from her invention.
Do you remember the rotary dial phone? My grandmother had a yellow one hanging on the wall. My sister and I would stand in the chair next to the phone to answer it. Then it was the touch-tone phone. We have Dr. Shirley Jackson to thank for that. Dr. Jackson also developed caller-ID and fiber-optic cable.
Ladies, there is an “event” that takes place every 21-28 days. I am thankful for this event or menstrual cycle. If it was not for this natural cycle, I would not have my two precious ones today. Mary and Mildred Davidson (sisters) understood the struggle in the 1900s, so they developed a practical device called the sanitary belt. She later patented the absorbent pocket in order to place a cloth or tissue in the pocket.
In addition, Mary Davidson also created the toilet paper holder, and the tray and carrier that attaches to a walker.
This next inventor, Dr. Patricia Bath faced many challenges in the field of ophthalmology, as a black female doctor. From 1970 to 1973, Dr. Bath was the first black female to complete a residency in ophthalmology. She focused on promoting awareness concerning cataracts and vision issues in the minority communities. As Dr. Bath would say, “eyesight is a basic human right.” She invented the Laserphaco Probe, which used a laser to make a small incision in the eye and correct the cataract in seconds. As we age, our vision does change so I am grateful for this discovery.
Black women are making a different in technology and social media in the current era. Lisa Gelobter developed the technology called shockwave, which formed web animation. It is nothing like a “GIF” to get your point across in text message. She was also a part of a team that created online video.
Lisa is now serving as the Chief Digital Service Officer with the US Department of Education.
Oftentimes we use items in our daily routines without thought of who created them. I have a greater appreciation for the hairbrush, the ironing board, and the home security system. These are just a few of the around-the-house devices that we use daily. I’m proud to know so many of the items I use from day to day were invented by Black moms, for all moms.